Updated on 09/15/2011 12:58PM

How weekly NCAA football lines are made


A lot of people don't know how the football lines in Las Vegas originate. They wake up on Monday morning and see Miami-Fla. as a 44-point favorite over Rutgers and assume that's the opening line.

But the Stardust, which posts the first football lines in town, actually opened the Hurricanes -41 on Saturday. The Stardust "lottery" - in which bettors are assigned a number and get the first crack at the raw numbers - is usually held at 5:30 p.m. each Sunday, but with no NFL games this past weekend the Stardust posted its NFL Week 1 lines on Saturday and its college games on Sunday afternoon.

The Stardust has betting limits of $10,000 on NFL sides and $5,000 on college sides. After each limit wager, sports book director Joe Lupo and his staff have the option of adjusting the line (usually a half- or full point) or standing pat if they think they have a solid number.

This week, some of the big bettors were obviously impressed with the Hurricanes' 33-7 thrashing of Penn St. on the road, and figured the line wasn't high enough.

What usually happens is that other sports books around town wait until Monday morning for the "wise guys" to pound the Stardust line into place before opening with the adjusted line.

The Stardust will move college games much more aggressively than the pros, especially the higher the spread goes. Of the 44 college games posted for this upcoming weekend, 18 had line moves and six were by more than a point.

In the NFL, six of the 15 games moved but none was more than a full point. The Jets opened as a 1-point favorite over the Colts, but were bet down to pick-'em, the Raiders were bet from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 against the Chiefs. The Bucs were lowered from 9 1/2 to 9 over the Cowboys. The Jaguars were lowered from 4 1/2 to 3 1/2 over the Steelers (and 3 by Monday morning), and the Rams were lowered from 4 to 3 over the Eagles.

In a sixth game, the odds changed but the number stayed the same. For the Monday night game, the Stardust opened the Broncos -7 and took some early Giants money. The Stardust is reluctant to move off key numbers (such as 3 or 7, which are very common margins of victory) in the NFL, so Giants bettors as of Monday morning had to lay -120 (bet $1.20 instead of the standard $1.10 to win a $1) on the Giants +7 while getting even-money if they took the Broncos -7.

Weekend wrapup

Nevada's legal bookmakers had their second straight winning weekend to start the college football season, thanks mostly to the performances from the two teams from Oregon. Bettors jumped all over the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, betting them from the opening number of 8 1/2 all the way up to 13 against visiting Wisconsin. The Ducks rallied to win 31-28 but the books (and the Wisconsin bettors) got the money. In Sunday's prime-time game, the public backed Oregon State from a 3 1/2- to a 4 1/ 2-point favorite at home against Fresno State. Fresno State looked impressive in winning 44-24 to pull its second consecutive upset of the young season. Last week, they beat Colorado.

The biggest win for the betting public was on Tennessee, which opened as a 13-point favorite over Syracuse and got bet all the way up to 18. The Vols won 33-9. Other winners for the bettors included Florida, Wake Forest, Rice, and Utah State. But the losing list was longer: Kentucky, Virginia Tech (an impressive 42-10 winner over UConn, but had been bet up from a 44 to a 49 1/2-point favorite), Colorado State, California, Ball State, USC, Air Force, and Nevada.

I was 1-2 in my initial college picks of the season. I lost in routs on both Colorado State and Penn State, but rebounded with UCLA +3 as the Bruins beat Alabama outright, 20-17.

My NFL preseason picks ended on a losing note, as I was 1-4 the final week. My preseason bankroll ends with a record of 15-17 and a net loss of 37 units bets based on betting 11 units to win 10 on each play.

Del Mar gets taste of Vegas

A show of hands on the bus on the ride back to the airport showed that only four of the 38 daytrippers made money, but a group of Texas Station and Santa Fe Station horseplayers and race book personnel still had a great time at Del Mar on Sunday.

The two Station Casinos properties on the north end of town held drawings this summer for trips to Southern California's premier meet. The casino made sure that their guests were treated just as they are in the Nevada's race books - with free admission, free Daily Racing Forms and programs, and a free lunch and drinks. The group flew to San Diego and flew back the same evening. Del Mar's eighth race was named in honor of Texas Station and its guests.